This year, we will enter the ninth generation of consoles which will significantly shape the next five to eight years of games we receive as players and develop as Game Designers across the world.
Both Sony and Microsoft seem to be both listening to players and developers around the world by making it easier to access quality games, cutting edge technology and support to developers across the world to ensure their next title can have a place in their rosters.
In the last few months, both Team Xbox and PlayStation have showcased their consoles to the world, each with a different landscape that can have pros & cons.
As we don’t have the consoles yet this will be an early prediction but in terms of development thinking and where we see STAR SHREDDERS going, we decided to have an early prediction of who wins the crown this generation.
On September 16, 2020, Sony treated us to a reveal showcase where we witnessed some technical specifications, a roster of games and prices!
We saw the PS5 alongside a digital version with only the difference being the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc drive between the two systems, which was a good call from Sony. The digital version will be £359.99/$399.99/€399.99, whilst the PS5 costs £449.99/$499.99/€499.99 which was cheaper than expected, particularly the digital version.
The digital version has an impressive price drop given its the same specifications as its bigger brother but players will need to buy their games from their PS Store service.
Seeing accomplishments for indie developers utlising their store has always been rewarding to see. Games like Thomas Was Alone and Fall Guys saw dramatic increases in popularity due their inclusion to the PlayStation Plus service.
However, Sony has a monopoly on their digital front with their store reigning alone on the console. Players will need to fork out big cash for the AAA releases on release days and developers only have their storefront as an entry point to deploy their games, which can be stifling for smaller developers.
Nevertheless, we have the disc version to combat that all with players given the option to buy physical copies as well as the ability to play their current PS4 collections.
Talking about the PS5 technology, particularly with development, it seems Sony are continuing their current trend of accessibility to developers to ensure all creations perform as intended.
Developers have already marvelled at the ease of development using the system as it’s essentially the incredible architecture of the PS4 with new features and functions that will allow developers to continue to innovate on familiar territory.
Alongside the architecture continuing to be accessible to developers, Game engines are also getting ready to deploy PlayStation 5 support, particularly Unreal who revealed the Unreal Engine 5 via a superb tech demo running on a PlayStation 5. Seeing this support this early is incredible as we can see that having STAR SHREDDERS on the PlayStation 5 will be a viable milestone to embark on.
Considering last generations focus on independent games, the quality of their first party releases & accessibility for third party developers, Sony essentially won the last generation with the largest market share with over 100 million PS4s sold. This means a lot of happy players and their focus on games and accessibility on all fronts was the fundamental reason for this success.
Xbox Series X
On September 9th, Microsoft revealed the Xbox Series X and its digital counterpart, the Xbox Series S. The Xbox Series X will cost £449 / $499 whilst the Xbox Series S will be $299 / £249 at launch.
Whilst the PS5 differences were only at the disc drive, these new XBOX systems will not share the same specifications. The Series X boasts an impressive 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM, 12 TFLOPS (52CUs at 1.825GHz) of RDNA 2 graphics and with a custom Zen 2 eight-core processor that runs at 3.8GHZ. Powered to up to 4K, the Series X will excel in all the technical prowess it has whilst the digital version falls short with resolutions locked at 1440P and a downgrade of the RAM, storage and a slight drop in performance from the 4 TFLOPS (20CUs at 1.565GHz) of RDNA 2 graphics & 3.6GHz processor.
Now this may be slight technical differences in which developers would still be able to create one code base for both consoles variants. It’s just as time passes and development of the system becomes more easier as well as numerous updates, those looking to create games will need to optimise for both versions whilst trying to ensure that the digital version keeps up with their developments.
This might not be an issue for indie developers looking to release or create for the system as indie games tend to stray away from graphical advancements and rather excel on gameplay and other aspects.
Now probably the biggest takeaway from the reveal was the addition of Xbox Game Pass with the consoles.
Xbox Game Pass has already been a big success with over 15 million subscribers as of September, up 50% from their last count in April. Xbox will be releasing all first party games to the service as well as host a number of third party and indie titles.
The diverse assortment of games on Game Pass is what is really intriguing as we see games highlighted that are rich in gameplay, fresh visuals and new ideas. Xbox head Phil Spencer has stated the Xbox brand was socially associated with just shooters and racing games, which they wanted to change by adding a roster of games that were different and played with various other genres and techniques (Kinect or the Adaptive Controller).
Developers have found another home on a mainstream level that promotes diversity in its roster as well supporting them through advertisements and recommendations, which has been met with rave reviews. Hyperdot from Tribe Games saw an dramatic increase in players once it was released due to ease of being able to download games freely as service users.
That ease will allow millions of players to simply download as many games as they like, which should increase visibility for smaller indie titles on the service.
Alongside Game Pass and the new systems, Xbox also revealed an All-Access service in which players can get a console as well as 24 months of Game Pass Ultimate for an affordable monthly price. This also was a game changer to see Xbox led with players actually being able to receive next-gen consoles on a budget. Partnered with the fact that players get all big releases on Game Pass, Xbox are building an ecosystem based on subscribers rather than console sales.
A big part of that is ensuring great games are available so development needs to be accessible, which for the most part is achievable due the PC like architecture that serves great for development. Unreal and Unity already support Xbox One deployment with Series support coming soon so building STAR SHREDDERS to Xbox could also be a viable achievement in the near future. Coupled with the fact it could be on Game Pass, it opens the doors to subscriptions and the massive opportunities it brings.
So from these early predictions, we can see that we are getting the best in tech when it comes to the consoles as well as a host of games from launch with Xbox Game Pass and PS Plus.
For us players around the world, we think the verdict is Everyone Wins!
As for the PlayStation, we believe their dedication to game developers shined throughout the PS4s lifespan and is going into the next generation headstrong with a remarkable console that will usher in the next great lineage of first party games and indie titles.
Xbox have switched things up this time around to make sure players are receiving their best content in an ecosystem that is affordable and diverse. Game Pass has the showings of a service that could marvel the likes of Spotify or Netflix in the games space where players have a vast choice of games across the Series consoles, PC and mobile.
For developers, we think it will also be a win as the focus across the whole industry is content. Not only are we seeing releases of new consoles but Cloud based gaming is an emerging market with other big players involved. All will be able to take control of the latest tech but its the acknowledgement that these systems need games is what is apparent and up for grabs so by having streamlined development processes that are proficient in build time and deployment are essential which they all seem to be doing.
Yes it’s a grand time not only for us to be able to select numerous storefronts for STAR SHREDDERS but also all of us as players as it seems we are going into another golden age of console gaming where diversity in the experiences was the rave.
Pre orders are crazy right now with little to no updates on the current status but with November 10th (PS5 release date) and 12th (PS5 release date) fast approaching, we hope the stores are full for everyone to enjoy over the holiday period!